Although many Dorset Wills are in the Record Office in Dorchester, many Somerset Wills were destroyed by enemy action during World War II air raids on Exeter, where they were supposedly stored for safe keeping.

The prime object of the Society's Wills database is to securely store any Will submitted to the Society by its members and others.  The Society's aim is to list all persons mentioned in a specific Will, whether Testator, Executor, Beneficiary, Witness, etc. who had an address in either of the Counties of Somerset or Dorset. The resultant Index can be of considerable value to the Family Historian.

Wills at present included in the database range from 1363 to 1994, and total 7,419. However, these are only a fraction of Somerset and Dorset Wills indexed in the respective County Record Offices and elsewhere. The Society has plans to gradually expand the Database, commensurate with the availability of volunteer effort to carry out transcription.

Where a Will is indexed on the database, it gives the following information, if it has been made available:

    The date the Will was made, the date of Death and the date it was Proved.
    Where the Will was proved and is now located, together with any references.
    Any relevant notes.
    For each person, his/her forename and surname.
    How mentioned (e.g. Testator, Executor, Beneficiary, Witness).
    Place (e.g. Town or Village).
    Relationship to Testator. These relationships are especially important to family historians searching for siblings and co-lateral family lines.
    All people named in the Wills are recorded, but not the inheritances.

Where does the information come from?

    Various printed sources, e.g. the Somerset Record Society's Volumes.
    Details of family Wills provided by Society members and others.
    Details extracted from Wills located at the Public Record Office, County Record Offices, Libraries, etc

Database Search

The Society's volunteers can search the database for you. For details of research charges see here.